Objective: To quantify the number of follicles in patients with ovarian pathologies, benign and malignant, in pregnant and nonpregnant states and to determine how the presence of ovarian masses and BRCA status affects follicular counts.
Materials and methods: Slides from 134 reproductive-aged women undergoing oophorectomy were examined using light microscopy by 3 independent counters blinded to the diagnosis. In all, 20 patients had cancer, 69 had benign conditions, and 35 patients were BRCA+ or had a strong family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer. In all, 10 women were either pregnant or immediately postpartum.
Results: Patients undergoing risk-reducing surgery had significantly decreased follicle count compared to physiologic control. Patients with cancer had significantly decreased counts compared to all other groups. There were no differences within the benign cohort.
Conclusions: When compared to benign masses, the cortex surrounding an ovarian malignancy has decreased follicle density. The stretch impact may minimize any impact on total follicle numbers. Furthermore, there may be a proliferation of ovarian stroma, with the same number of follicles spread over a larger surface area. This information is important when counseling women with ovarian masses regarding the use of ovarian tissue cryopreservation.
Keywords: endometriosis; fertility preservation; follicle density; ovarian cancer; ovarian tissue cryopreservation; ovarian tissue transplantation.